‘Marks the end of an era’

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Class of 2023 Officers for Montgomery High School seniors. Photo courtesy of Montgomery Class of 2023 Instagram.

Montgomery High School Class of 2023 reflect on memories and friendships

The Class of 2023 dressed in their Montgomery High School (MHS) green graduation gowns and hats reflected on their high school memories and the friendships made as they came together for one final time.

The class whose high school years and learning were thrown out of balance with a global pandemic celebrated reaching the milestone of graduation as they walked across the stage with diplomas in hand at MHS’s Commencement ceremony in Skillman on June 21.

Even though the senior graduates can’t relive the moments experienced in high school, Class President Aryan Gurusamy said what truly matters in life is not where they start, but rather where they end up.

“Because our goals will be so distinct, so will the pace at which we choose those goals at,” he said. “Some will jog steadily; others will sprint with intensity and some people will walk towards their goals and you will see some running in the complete opposite direction as you.”

But it does not mean that any of these options are right or wrong, Gurusamy added.

“All it means is that because our goals will be so unique comparing yourself to someone else would be completely useless,” he said. “At the end of the day it will be the fulfilment of our own dreams that will truly matter. It will be the journey that shapes our character, mold us into who we want to become in the future and unveil our true potential.”

Valedictorian Miranda Qing shared with her classmates one piece of advice that has been the most important for her in the past four years – “in life you should prioritize your happiness.”

“The most important thing for success is just doing what brings you happiness,” she said.

Qing urged fellow seniors to be good to others, laugh through the challenges with friends, and do spontaneous and brave things.

“The only person whose perspective can actually determine the quality of your life is yourself,” she said. “So, work hard to do what excites you and what you find meaningful, and I have to add that can mean academic pursuits.

“I’ll always be wishing that for all of you that you are out there in the world putting your effort and hard work into things that are meaningful and make you proud and happy.

“To my classmates we have so much adventure and excitement ahead of us and we are all going to have really incredible lives,” she said.

Salutatorian George Cao reflected on the journey the class had taken and the memories they made.

“In our sophomore year, we remember when Among Us was the most popular video game and when the two scariest things were COVID-19 and the unmute button on Zoom,” he said. “And eventually after applying to colleges, battling senioritis, and living through smokey air from the wildfires, we finally made it here.”

Cao noted that the class is faced with a rapidly changing world as he cited artificial intelligence becoming a part of their lives.

“The world around us is evolving faster than ever and it has and will impact our education, our social lives and our way of thinking,” he said. “Yet what will remain forever unchanged is our resilience and our adaptability.

“We have faced rigorous academic demands, grueling athletic competitions and personal challenges that have tested our limits. We have lived through a global pandemic and in the face of adversity we prevailed.

“In the words of the famous musician and artist, Drake, ‘Live for today, plan for tomorrow and party tonight,'” he cited

Heather Pino-Beattie, principal of MHS, highlighted for the Class of 2023 that graduation is the culmination of four years of “hard work, dedication, perseverance, successes, and experience.”

“As we pause to celebrate what will be new beginnings for all of you, tonight also marks the end of an era,” she said. “You have all left your mark on Montgomery, forever holding a place in its history. I need you all to know your lives matter. Your time matters and only you have the power to define how you will spend it.”

She shared a piece of advice with the seniors that comes from the Television character Ted Lasso.

“In a transformative response to poor judgement and mistakes made, Ted Lasso says to those around him, ‘I hope that all of us or none of us are judged by the actions of our weakest moments, but rather the strength we show when and if we are given a second chance.'”

She told the seniors, they are going to make mistakes, are going to meet with failure, and are going to face challenges in their personal lives, careers and as human beings.

“However, it is not the mistake, challenge or perceived failure that will define you, but rather what you do in response and who you become in the wake of adversity,” she said.

“When you are given the chance, show up, seize the opportunity, and show the world how truly strong you are and then in turn give that same opportunity for growth to the people that are around you.”